Raquel André on ETC Panel “European Formats of Participatory Theatre”

Hello, good morning I’m Raquel André, I’m a collector. In 2014, I started collecting people. “Collection of People” is a long-term project that includes four collections: lovers; collectors; artists; and spectators. All my collections are about the ephemeral, things that are impossible to be kept, and finding ways to collect people. For my collections, I create theatre shows, performances, books, exhibitions, workshops and films. My first collection is a collection of lovers. I set meetings with strangers in unfamiliar houses. We have to take at least one photo that proves an intimacy. After the first meeting I realised that there had to be a second and from the second and third and on and on and right now I count 230 lovers. Different ages, nationalities, genders. Until now I collected lovers in 24 cities from Lisbon to Rio de Janeiro Bergen to Cincinnati, Buenos Aires to Geneva. I never know who I will meet. No one else is there besides us, the camera and the tripod. It is the lover that suggests what picture is taken. I got to this question that becomes central to the work – What is intimacy for you? I decided to collect lovers for 10 years. I thought that a decade would be the minimum time frame to see what changes in this question, and how this question changes me. I’m in the fifth year and every city I cross by, I collect more lovers. Right now I have around 7,000 pictures. These are some of them. The second collection is a “Collection of Collectors”. It’s a collection of people who share with me their obsession of collecting. How to know someone through their collections. What memories carry an object. It all started in 2016, in the north of Portugal. So far I’ve collected 36 collectors in Germany, Belgium, and several cities in Portugal. I spent hours with each collector and everything is recorded on video. I don’t leave any of the collectors houses without bringing an object from their collections. Something to tell their story, that reminds me of our meeting. Something to activate my memory of the experience we went through together. I will introduce you to two of them. First, Bart in Kortrijk, Belgium. He collects repeated objects. I’m always happy everyday when I look to my objects I have, I’m very happy. It makes me happy to just see. I keep my collections and I’m presenting graphically. If you are an artist you show your work but if you are just collecting something it’s something for yourself. It’s impossible that an object is the same. It’s like a tree with a million leaves, there is no exact leaf to each other. A tree has a million leaves but it’s never the same leaf. I’m also fine if I die, you just put it in a container and it’s done. That’s the thing, if I go to other countries I always go to second hand markets, not to buy anything but to look. People like walking in the forest on a Sunday morning, I like to walk around second hand markets
with the sun that’s rising. It’s an addiction, so I try to you know that you have a collecting disease, something that is natural I have it from my father. You can explain that feeling? The happiness? Capitalism. Capitalism. Pure capitalism. I don’t buy any new things but if you buy things it’s pure capitalism. It’s only in parts of the world where the people are possible to collect things. I think when you go to Brazil or South America, most, they don’t collect objects. Life is more clean. It’s hidden. You know that we have so many objects
in the house, everyone. Do you know how many objects you have? In total? You will see it’s full. We have, I don’t know. In Tomar, Portugal, Maria Lena has a collection of more than 60,000 matchboxes. She has a museum. My other two collections are currently ongoing. “Collection of Spectators”. In all the projects of collecting people I collect spectators. The spectators are invited to activate a direct relationship with me, that generates visual, textual and object archives. They send me photos, objects, letters, magazines, videos. This collection activates a conversation between the work and its witnesses, who let themselves be affected by it and it never stops to accumulate. Here, you can see some photos of these archives from the spectators of the performances of “Collection of Lovers”. When I was blonde. Readers of the book “Collection of Lovers – Vol. 1”. People in their houses, watching a TV version of “Collection of Lovers”. Visitors of the exhibition in Cincinnati the contemporary art centre of the exhibition of the “Collection of Lovers”. And more than 600 objects from 40 performances of “Collection of Collectors”. Objects that spectators gave me during the show. This is the archive for a performance to premiere in 2021. Right now I’m working on “Collection of Artists”. It is possible, to a moment of a creation of an artist to access the artist, to access their story. In the question of artists, my proposal is to use my own body as an archive. How can my body memorise someone? “Collection of Artists” is about each artist. There are different practices, conceptual perspectives and different tools of work. It is also about their personal desires and ways of being. Putting into relation what they do and who they are. I will premiere this work in September at the national theatre Dona Maria II in Lisbon Until now I have collected 17 artists from different nationalities, a contemporary dancer, a musician from a classical orchestra, a painter, a sculptor, a hip-hopper, a theatre director, an actress, a performer, a circus artist, etc. This is only a little glimpse of my collection of people, my collection of ephemeral things, my collection of things that seem impossible to be kept. For our debate here today (just two minutes) I have three quotes to share. Oscar Wilde says “It is not art that imitates life, but life that imitates art.” I believe in the possibility of living artistically. “Collection of People” is a way of living artistically. If it were not an artistic project, I would not be able to meet these people, I would not be able to get into their homes, I would not be affected by them and their stories. In the last five years it has become my way of approaching people and places. And to make of it my work of art is a privilege and a great pleasure. But most of all it is a way of being. Nato Thompson in “Living as Form” starts with Foucault saying, “What strikes me is the fact that in our society, art has become something which is related only to objects and not to individuals or to life, that art is something which is specialised or which is done by experts who are artists. But couldn’t everyone’s life become a work of art? Yes. Collecting people is a methodology of artistic composition, a way of writing stories and telling them. For me it is perspective – yes. We are all lovers, collectors, artists and spectators. Because we all have a story that draws us closer. That in its differences and peculiarities becomes narrative. And for the theatre it is a great tool for composition and content creation. Claire Bishop wrote about delegated performance, the following: “This type of performance in which the artist uses other people as the material of his or her work, tends to occasion heated debate about the ethics of her presentation. Everyone who I collect consents to be collected. Everyone knows that our meeting is an artistic meeting. They all know that the show will be presented from the meeting. And they all get involved until the limits are ready to make sense to them. I invite these people to an experience. A consented experience. For me, these meetings with the collected are themselves performances and artistic work. Both I and the people experience an attempt to collect what is impossible to be collected. Believing that because it is an artistic work, it may even be possible to collect someone. I collect people to make a work of art, that right now, it has become my way of living and my history. So “Collection of People” is my way to participate and to invite others to participate. It is my participatory work and history. It is my participatory life. Thank you.

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